Sometime after the 2008 election, I decided it was easy for me NOT to click on anything that tried to entice me with text or images of ‘Sarah Palin‘ — the unsuccessful 2008 Republican vice presidential candidate, who left politics to develop her own marketable “brand.”
Rightly or wrongly, this lesson has enabled me to ignore the current media circus swirling around US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Donald Trump seems to have decided that what worked for Ms. Palin can work for him: Never have I seen anyone so clearly building his own personal brand by entering politics. (“I’ll make the White House mine.”)
Ms. Palin — like George W Bush before her, actually — became popular by NOT knowing too much about US foreign policy, NOT really understanding domestic policy, NOT knowing how a democracy — even a capitalist democracy — actually works. Instead, these people (like the entertainment-news people who most often interview them) are colorful. They say outrageous things to draw clicks and TV eyeballs (if not voters) like a flaming warehouse full of fireworks.
Which is what it’s all about.
“It all started” (he said) in the 1980s, when the TV networks were confronted by the advent of cable and CNN’s new 24-hour cycle.
Back then, the TV execs decided they could no longer afford to provide “serious news” as a public service — goodbye, Walter Cronkite and other real broadcast journalists. Instead, the execs decided they had to make advertising income from nightly news so, in their wisdom, they moved the writers and deliverers of broadcast news under the administration of Entertainment, alongside the producers of situation comedies, film dramas, and game shows.
Eventually, serious journalists — whose ranks used to be filled by working-class people — no longer worked for these operations out of love of good (if difficult) stories or the bigger goals of the field, but for the love of being “on.” Too many broadcasters came to love their own manufactured personalities. And, of course, the money and privilege that comes with their positions — or used to.
Today, in the United States, if you are going to be any kind of public figure — more than genuine speaking talent or brains — it seems you have to cultivate your on-air persona, your media/TV personality.
Full confession: In thirty years of writing, most of my paid writing work has been unbylined. More often than not, I’ve worked behind-the-scenes to make other people and agencies look and sound good. This has changed with the publication of Carla Rising. Simply put, I’m writing for myself because have my own books to ‘move.’
But the move from serious writing and politics to Entertainment (with a capital ‘E’) is what we are seeing in the upcoming 2016 primary election campaign, especially on the Republican side, especially in the candidacy of Donald Trump.
This article, by John Cassidy in The New Yorker, pretty much explains it. Nice, to be able to read it — for a while, at least — for free….